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This Britain

Mars & Venus: What the perfect husband needs to understand about women

In a distressing report that rocked Britain to its core last week, the Daily Mail discovered the shocking news that gender relations have changed since the 1950s.

In a survey for the Ideal Home Show, reported the paper, men said they were no longer looking for a woman who could bake a cake and master the discreet application of curlers. Instead, the perfect wife manages household finances and enjoys a drink. "It's amazing to see how much we have changed since The Good Wife's Guide was written in 1955," responded Maxine Soghmanian, organiser of the show.

The original guide, published in Housekeeping Monthly, advised women to "have a delicious meal ready in time for his return", to shut up and "listen to him" and never to object "if he goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you... even if he stays out all night". Modern times call for a little more balance.

In an exhaustive survey conducted by the IoS and reported here for the first time, it has become apparent that women's requirements for a perfect husband have also shifted. Gone are the days when a man had to come home from a hard day's clerking only to be expected to change a light bulb and cough up the housekeeping. Once she has cottoned on to the Reader's Digest DIY Manual a woman doesn't need a man to change her fuses.

But there are some things even a modern girl struggles with. Husbands are important for having pockets and being able to reach high things. They're useful for taking on holiday and even the most separatist feminist sometimes needs a dance partner – preferably one who's mastered the art of being Just Gay Enough.

Physicality is important: the face should be one that can give the impression of listening; but a torso like David Beckham's is less valuable than never being seen to do anything to achieve it. The other aspects of Beckham in a perfect husband are more difficult to illustrate in a family newspaper.

Once, a real man was expected to bring home the bacon. Now ladies can buy their own bacon, they want a man to cook it and bring it to them with brown sauce on a Sunday morning.

Don't tell the Mail, but Naughties women say that if a man can string a sentence together he may not even need to pay her housekeeping money in order to get her to listen to him.

The sum of all the parts

Good listening face

Perfect husbands have good listening faces, like the psychologist Oliver James.

The right height

Like 6ft 7in footballer Peter Crouch, Mr Right can reach things off high shelves.

A good cook

Gordon Ramsay could cook a perfect steak, but would he deign to mash the spuds?

Can dial the takeaway

Perfect men can dial the takeaway to order, having programmed the number into their mobile phones, and they never ask you to share your naan.

Useful pockets

Frocks don't have pockets. José Mourinho's coat would carry your lippy.

Just Gay Enough

A Just Gay Enough husband such as Phil Spencer would regale you with property porn.

Dance partner

Even a modern woman needs a dance partner, like, say, Fred Astaire.

Perfect elements

100 per cent of our sample said David Beckham had elements of perfection.

Holiday companion

The perfect husband, such as Monty Don with his ubiquitous bag, is a must on holidays.